The Ontario Superior Court of Justice fined Trinity Bible Chapel, a Canadian church, $83,000 for holding a physical Sunday service, violating their restrictions on COVID-19.
On January 22, the Superior Court ordered the Trinity Bible Chapel to temporarily halt indoor gatherings in compliance with the COVID-19 safety protocols. The order had certain provisions: if a gathering can't be averted, the church must limit its guest to no more than 10 persons.
But only days after the notice, Pastor Jacob Reaume, the leader of the Trinity Bible Chapel since 2009, invited believers to attend the Sunday service in their church.
He explained the reason why he was willing to violate the order in a blog post on their church's website. He argued that these are the times that fellow believers need each other and he was doing it out of "love for God and neighbor."
Pastor Reaume stated in his invitation to the believers that, "people are lonely, afraid, despairing of life itself, and facing financial ruin, among many other deprivations and tribulations. This is all during the darkest and coldest season of the year. If ever our fellow Ontarians needed hope, it is now."
"Risking reputation and financial viability to offer eternal hope and warm Christian fellowship to a world in despair is an act of love that I am certain Jesus smiles on," he added.
Pastor Reaume does not seem to regret his actions as 13 new believers were baptized on February 21, following their Sunday service held on January 24. He claims that he felt the strong presence of God during the public worship.
As a result of their violation, the Ontario Supreme Court of Justice fined them a total of $83,000. The breakdown of the fine is as follows:
Pastor Will Schuurman and Pastor Reaume were fined $5,000 each; a pastor named Randy was fined $4,000; the elders involved were each fined $3,000; the church itself was fined $15,000; the church was fined with an additional amount of $45,000 to cover the legal fees of the Ministry of the Attorney General (MAG), who claims that their attorneys spent a total of 104 hours to prosecute the church for their violations on the 24th of January, in which the church pleaded guilty for.
"These fines will not and cannot be appealed. They are final." Pastor Reaume assured.
Pastor Will Schuurman, one of the pastors who were fined by the Supreme Court, tweeted several testimonies about the Sunday service they held on January 24th. He even claimed that some believers mentioned how the January 24th service was the best Sunday service they have attended.
Despite participating in various churches in the past, the man "was never truly born again." But after the Sunday service that the Trinity Bible Chapel held, the man felt forgiven of his past sins "like he never felt before."
Pastor Reaume, for his part, said they will pay the fine because it is worth paying to worship God together for - and that the amount is nothing compared to what Christ gave in order for Christians to be God's children.
"We will pay $83,000 for having church on January 24. I could say it was the most extravagantly priced service I've ever held, but that would not be factual. Every service I've held has cost Christ His very own blood, which is worth infinitely more than any dollar amount," he said.